What is Acute Sinusitis?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Acute sinusitis is a form of sinusitis that usually begins with an infection in the upper respiratory tract or some type of invasion in the system by fungi. Fortunately, this type of sinusitis is often easier to treat than other types, such as chronic sinusitis. Often, over the counter medications are helpful with this condition when it is caught in the early stages.

While it is not unusual for acute sinusitis to begin in the respiratory tract, the impact on the sinuses is very similar to other forms of the condition. Inflammation of the nasal passages is common and can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Since the condition may be triggered by bacteria or a viral infection, determining the exact sub-group of acute sinusitis is sometimes difficult. However, one general rule of thumb is that if the condition persists for less than seven days, it was most likely viral. Any time frame over seven days indicates that a bacterial infection is most likely the origin.


There are several basic symptoms associated with the presence of acute sinusitis. Headaches and as sense of fullness or congestion in the nasal passages or upper respiratory tract are common. A sense of general malaise may also be present, combining fatigue with a generally achy feeling in the chest and throat area. While the severity of the symptoms will vary from one person to another, all tend to be present at some time during the progress of the infection.

In terms of the right type of sinusitis treatment to utilize with cases of acute sinusitis, the use of a few over the counter medications may help ease some of the symptoms. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are likely to help dull the headaches and some of the general discomfort. Irrigating the nasal passages with a saline solution is one of several time honored sinusitis remedies. Many people who prefer to try a home remedy before going to a doctor prepare their own saline solution using a mixture of table salt and warm water. While this homemade solution may bring about some relief from the symptoms, there is still a good chance the individual will require something stronger to help bring the condition under control.

Antibiotics are normally one of the first solutions a healthcare professional will employ to help begin healing the acute sinusitis. If antibiotics prove unsuccessful, it is likely that the use of corticosteroids will be necessary. These may be used alone or in conjunction with antibiotics, based on the severity of the condition.


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Post 3

Nasal irrigation with salt water is an excellent acute sinusitis treatment. I do it at least twice a day, it helps me breathe.

Post 2

@fify-- I'm not a doctor but I've suffered from both so I'll do my best to explain.

Chronic sinusitis can be caused by a bacterial infection just as acute sinusitis, but the cause of the bacterial infection is different.

Acute sinusitis is when you have an infection elsewhere, such as in your lungs and throat and the bacteria from that infection travels to your sinuses and causes an infection there. Our throat, nose, ears and sinuses are all connected, so infections can literally jump around. When an acute sinusitis is treated (along with the other infection) with antibiotics, it won't come back.

On the other hand, the bacteria causing a chronic sinusitis is localized in the sinuses

. This type of sinusitis is usually due to blocked sinuses. Fluids in the sinuses cannot drain out and bacteria accumulate and cause infections. Unless the sinuses are able to drain again, chronic sinusitis will keep coming back.

So that's the difference, I hope I didn't bore you with this long explanation!

Post 1

What's the difference between acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis? Aren't they both caused by bacterial infections?

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